2 of 3:Wealth
Picking up where I left off on my three-part series, I’d like to focus on Wealth. For reference, part one was a deep reflection on what I learned about health in 2020. In shifting my focus, I’ve certainly had numerous revelations which really solidified my beliefs on certain wealth perspectives.
In reflecting on the past year, one thing jumps off the page to me immediately (and it’s something I’ve spoken about before). Wealth is different than being rich. I work with individuals that span the spectrum on money in the bank, but what was made clear to me is the wealthiest of those people, in my opinion, are the ones that have a well-balanced lifestyle. They, rightfully, create wealth in all aspects of their lives. The definition of wealth that I subscribe to is “plentiful supplies of a particular resource.” When I see a person with a life filled with tons of love, family, friends, adventure, charity, joy, purpose, etc., I see an individual who is truly wealthy. Alternatively, I’ve seen a lot of people, especially this past year, with millions of dollars in the bank who are certainly “rich,” but are still searching for true wealth.
True Wealth – Life Lessons from 2020
Next, I have spent a lot of my career trying to make people “rich.” As I’ve shifted my, and our firm’s focus, I learned a valuable lesson. Money doesn’t lead to happiness. Again, I have a fantastic viewpoint that most don’t. I see both people’s happiness and their assets. Trust me when I tell you this, these two things ARE NOT necessarily correlated. Some of the happiest people I know wouldn’t be considered “rich” by traditional standards. They’ve decided on what makes them happy and let their finances support and maximize their happiness.
My next observation from 2020 is that although money doesn’t lead to happiness, it can lead to unhappiness. I say this as a sort of book-end statement. First, and a little more intuitive, I see plenty of people whose lack of money leads to stress. I get it. Money can be a stressful thing, but it doesn’t have to be (or shouldn’t have to be). Second, and a little less intuitive, is I also see a lot of people whose abundance of money leads to stress. How can that be, you may wonder? There is a saying ‘Mo Money Mo Problems’ (or at least it’s a great hip hop song from the ’90s).
Let me tell you, it’s true. I see lots of people keeping up with the Jones’ and their stress level is beyond belief, as they try to afford their lavish lifestyle. Some of these people are more stressed than others with barely any resources. It seems crazy, I know, but trust me when I tell you money doesn’t cure all things. It’s critical to find happiness within, and not associate it with dollars and cents.
Success and Wealth – Life Lessons from 2020
Moving right along, my next and biggest revelation was that I always thought being more successful would lead to more wealth, which would lead to more happiness. However, as I’ve shifted my own personal and coaching focus to happiness this past year, it dawned on me that happiness is a state of mind (more so than zeros in the bank). More importantly, the real work begins on trying to detach these two things. We need to go about having two parallel paths in life. One path should be focusing on growing your assets and furthering your lifestyle. The other path should be focusing on maximizing life, or Carpe Diem as the Roman poet Horace said. I’ve made great strides in this for myself this past year, and I’m excited to continually do so at the company level to help change as many lives as possible.
Financial Planning Important – Life Lessons from 2020
Last, but certainly not least, 2020 was the final nail in the coffin for me on one particular topic—the importance of a solid financial plan. This is now the third major recession I’ve been through as a financial professional. I started my career being thrown to the wolves during the dot-com recession, then I picked my head up and got smacked back down during the great recession. Finally, in this past year, we all faced a global pandemic. Each of these historical times taught me more than any textbook.
We said it all year in our investment commentary; we make plans not only for the good times but to give us a foundation to get us through the bad. I saw people make terrible decisions this past year (some of which will permanently hurt their finances forever). The common theme to all of them was the simple lack of a formalized plan, or a decision to not follow their previously agreed-upon plan. Conversely, I bear witness to countless individuals who during these most uncertain and scary times fell back on their well-established financial plans. Without fail, those individuals weathered the storm and were prepared to get through it (and truthfully, this will not be the last storm). The lesson is: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
There you have it, my personal wealth reflections for 2020. This has been a fun exercise for me, as I’ve really started spending time each day slowing down to reflect. If nothing else, it has given me 3 blogs to write for us all to enjoy! What did you learn this past year about your wealth? I’d love for any and all feedback.
As always stay wealthy, stay healthy, and most importantly, stay happy!